Sunday, June 5, 2011

Are You Reading the Right Journals?

So you're researching your family history.  You're probably also trying to become a better genealogist along the way so that you can find your ancestors easier.  Maybe you're even reading genealogical magazines and journals to help broaden your knowledge.

There are lots of great genealogy magazines out there such as Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy, Family Tree Magazine and American Ancestors.  There are also many peer reviewed journals such as the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, the New England Historical and Genealogical Register and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.

All of these journals and magazines are great but are they the right publications for you to use in researching your family history?

Yesterday, I wrote about my New York Brick Walls. In it I promised myself to find out everything about Pompey, NY in order to help solve one of my brick walls.


How would you go about starting this research challenge?  I turned to PERSI - the Periodical Source Index.  PERSI gives genealogists a view of what has been published in genealogical and historical publications.  It allows us to search by places, people, publications and how-to's.  What better place for me to start searching about Pompey, NY than the PERSI places index.

One thing I discovered about Pompey, New York is that most of the articles published about it have been in a quarterly called Tree Talks which is published by the Central New York Genealogical Society.

While I may have been reading a great list of genealogical publications, I haven't been reading the one that is needed to solve my research problem.  That is why it is so critical to identify your research problem and then create a strategy for how you are going to solve it. Reviewing existing literature on your research topic (whether it be a surname or location or time period) is a critical part of starting your research process. (Of course, it would be a good thing to keep reading the other publications on a regular basis as they will help you improve your overall genealogical knowledge.)

Finding Publications

Tree Talks is not something I have easy access to so how am I going to find copies of the publication? By clicking on the Tree Talks link in PERSI, a list of known repositories appears.  I can see from the list that the closest repository to me is the New England Historic Genealogical Society. If you can't travel to one of the repositories listed it is very likely that one of them has a copy service that can provide a copy of the article for you.

Not all of the articles about Pompey are in Tree Talks so it's going to be important for me to check out the other articles as well.

Finding PERSI

If you're not yet familiar with PERSI, the first thing you need to know is how to gain access to it.  PERSI is available on and HeritageQuest (which is available through many local libraries).  For more detailed information on using PERSI check the FamilySearch Wiki.


  1. Thank you Marian, this is very useful information I am going to check out PERSI

  2. For information on history of the area, beyond genealogy, check out the database, America: History and Life. It's an index to articles published in history journals. Should be available in all university libraries. I've found it invaluable for background information. Once you locate the articles, the footnotes lead to all kinds of sources we don't always use.

  3. Marian,
    PERSI was the first bit of information I was taught when I began genealogy. Also, I've used Tree Talks at NEHGS, great resource. I'm sure you will find something about your area.